Bronson administration releases memo on hiring of Anchorage Health Department director who resigned within a year

Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration this week released an internal investigation document on the 2021 hiring of a health department director who resigned within a year.

Joe Gerace resigned as city health director in 2022 as an Alaska Public Media and American Public Media investigation revealed he had fabricated or exaggerated significant parts of his resume.

The release of the document on Tuesday follows an Anchorage Superior Court judge’s decision this month on an appeal for the records from the Anchorage Assembly.

The newly released document largely details information previously published in news reports and discussed by city officials during public meetings in the wake of Gerace’s departure.

A three-page memo was sent in January 2023 from human resources deputy director Jared Goecker to Municipal Manager Kent Kohlhase. It explains that in September 2021, three former top Bronson officials interviewed Gerace: chief of staff Sami Graham, municipal manager Amy Demboski and human resources director Niki Tshibaka. The HR department was notified that same day “to process his hiring paperwork as soon as possible,” and the department did.

The human resources department performed a criminal background and credit check, “which did not raise any red flags,” but the department did not verify Gerace’s educational background, contact his references or verify his employment history.

Not verifying those parts of his resume was “consistent with its existing process for direct executive appointments, which HR had used under previous administrations and as far back as HR staff with direct knowledge of the process can remember,” the memo said.


The report concludes that “the historical process for appointing executives has been broken for years, including under prior mayoral administrations, and was not designed to detect the misrepresentations Mr. Gerace made on his resume.”

On his resume, Gerace claimed to have two master’s degrees and a bachelor’s degree, but he did not receive any such degrees, the memo said.

Members of the Assembly reviewed the January 2023 memo last year during a closed-door session with Tshibaka and said it had revealed little if any information that hadn’t already been made public.

That proved largely true in Tuesday’s public release of the document.

The Anchorage Assembly had issued subpoenas to Mayor Dave Bronson and members of his administration for the internal investigation documents last year, saying the administration owed answers to the public.

Bronson and the former acting municipal attorney refused, and in an appeal the Assembly called on the court to make the two documents public in the city’s review of Gerace’s hiring.

Judge Andrew Guidi, in a split decision this month, said the January 2023 memo on Gerace’s hiring is not protected from public disclosure. Another from September 2022 is protected under attorney-client privilege, the judge said.

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Emily Goodykoontz

Emily Goodykoontz is a reporter covering Anchorage local government and general assignments. She previously covered breaking news at The Oregonian in Portland before joining ADN in 2020. Contact her at